The Venice Questionnaire #13: Berlinde De Bruyckere
Penthisilea IV, (2016) by Berlinde De Bruyckere shows a fragile skin of flesh-like wax hanging through a rusty hook on a shield-formed steel surface. The confrontation between materials is sexual, harsh and fragile. A sense emphasized in a combination with a series of four drawings called Met Tere Huid I-IV, (2016). Penthisilea IV proposes a singularity opposed to Vanwege een Tere Huid III and IV, (2016).
Courtesy of the Artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana
Berlinde De Bruyckere’s sculptures are figural and disfigured; her anatomically detailed animal and human forms lack certain appendages or—more often—heads, to disturbing effect. De Bruyckere believes the particular presence or absence of a head is irrelevant because “the figure as a whole is a mental state.” The artist, who had a gory childhood fascination with Lucas Cranach the Elder, began her career in the 1990s and was immediately drawn to figurative works. In her earliest pieces, De Bruyckere used woolen blankets and furniture as her primary materials, purposefully suggesting the absence of the human body. Her later works replicate, exaggerate, and fictionalize bodies, most iconically featuring horses on platforms or in vitrines, and human figures partially transformed into branches.
Belgian, b. 1964, Ghent, Belgium, based in Ghent, Belgium